Ragnar Relay Adirondacks 2014

This past weekend was my third Ragnar Relay Adirondacks! Ragnar Relay is a 200 mile relay race from Saratoga, NY to Lake Placid, NY. My team had two vans, 6 runners per van. This year I was in Van 2 after two years of being in Van 1. I got to see what the course was like for Van 2!

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Van 2 started running their legs at Gavin Park in Saratoga. I was runner #10!

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We definitely had some gorgeous weather this year for RagnarADK!

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Friday afternoon I had my first leg, 4.7 miles in Glens Falls. It was getting hot and my legs were feeling kind of tired (theme of the weekend) but I pushed through!

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Leg 1 – 4.7 mi
Average Pace – 10:25

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Our team, the Fitastics, was 80s inspired, hence the  hot pink tights I was wearing!

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Our team ran all the way to Lake George, where the next major exchange was, and we handed off to Van 1.

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Soon it was time for us to get some actual dinner! We all went to the ADK Pub & Brewery in Lake George for dinner, which was fun! It was cool to see all the other Ragnar teams there, all decked out in their team costumes and running gear.

We went to the next major exchange point to meet up with Van 1 when they were done with their second legs. We also tried to get some sleep, but I didn’t get much. The exchange was located at a high school and we had some designated sleeping areas where we slept right out under the stars. My next leg was in the middle of the night at around 3:30am in Westport along Lake Champlain, and was also my longest leg.

Leg 2 – 8.3 mi
Average pace – 11:10

This run was so mentally challenging. It was so long and hilly, and not to mention I was running at 3:30am on very little sleep! But thanks to one of our teammates, Emily, I made it through. She ran the last five miles with me, after her own leg. She was amazing! Thanks, Emily!

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When our van was done with our second legs, we arrived the last major exchange to wait for Van 1 to finish!

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We tried to get some more sleep outside, but again, I didn’t get much. Then it was time to head off to run our final and third leg of Ragnar.

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My third leg started in Wilmington and went to the parking lot at Whiteface Mountain. Even though it was challenging, hot, and mostly uphill, it was gorgeous.

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I didn’t mind the hill, as long as I had this view!

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Eventually I hit a point where I was just getting too hot and tired to  keep running strong, and with about a mile left, I added some power walking to the mix.

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Leg 3 – 4.9 mi
Average pace: 12:00

I was glad to be done. Thankfully at one of the exchanges, we had the opportunity to park near the Ausable River. We walked/hobbled down the path, and enjoyed a very refreshing foot soak.

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Just can’t get over how gorgeous it is on this course. The one thing I did like a lot about being in Van 2 was the scenery!

Once our final runner, Christine, was almost done, we drove to the finish line in Lake Placid.

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Soon she came running up and we crossed the finish line as a team! Yeah Fitastics!

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Another successful and fun RagnarADK in the books! Despite some pretty challenging runs, I had a great time and I’m proud for pushing through some of those legs. I ran 18 miles total for the weekend which is indeed an accomplishment.

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Want to read more about Ragnar Relay?

Check out my past recaps from RagnarADK 2012 and RagarADK 2013!

So You Want to Run a Relay Race?

What to Pack for Ragnar Relay

Trail Running

One of my favorite places to be is on the trails. Obviously! Last night I ran at a new-to-me trail at the Pine Bush Preserve Madison Avenue Barrens. The thing I like about the trails here is that they are wide and not too technical (less chance of falling)!

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There is also a variety of trails here, too. One of the loops was pretty sandy, which made for a great calf workout!

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It also kind of felt like running at the beach!

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I think more of my races in 2015 will be trail races, so I’ve got to amp up my trail running and also find some good spots to run. The Madison Avenue Pine Barrens is now high on that list.

New to trail running and thinking of running a trail race soon? Here are some tips!

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1. Run on trails. This may sound like a no-brainier, but actually running on trails is the best way to train for a trail race! Road running and trail running are SO different. There are many obstacles like roots, rocks and uneven ground on trails that you will encounter, and the best way is to practice so your body can get used to using those different leg muscles. My favorite places to trail run in Albany are the Pine Bush, Thacher Park, Tawasentha, and Five Rivers.

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3. Incorporate hills into your runs. Most trail races have elevation. Surprise! Since many boast great views–you can’t get a view unless you climb high (usually), so hill work is essential to be prepared for a race with elevation.

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3. Wear proper footwear. Proper trail running shoes are also important! Sometimes I can get away with wearing my regular road shoes on a non-technical trail, but I find that trail shoes help a lot. They are more stable and grip the ground better and my feet just feel better in trail shoes in general.

Looking for a local trail race? Here are some local ones!

10/26 Squirrelly Six & Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon at Thacher Park
11/9 - After the Leaves Fall Half Marathon at Minnewaska State Park (I’m already signed up for this one!)

Thacher Park Running Festival 10K

Saturday marked the 100 year celebration of John Boyd Thacher State Park. Ever since I was a little kid I have been coming here to walk the Indian Ladder Trail, and it’s still one of my favorite places to get outside in the Capital Region.

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I love going to Thacher for nature walks, trail running, fun trail racing, and even snowshoeing.

With one of the best views in the area, this place can’t be beat.

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This is why I ran the 10K on Saturday. As part of the Centennial Celebration, the Albany Running Exchange put on some trail races: a 5K, a 10K, and even a marathon and a 50K!

The 10K course was a loop that goes along part of the Long Path, a trail that I had never run on there before. I love running new trails and it was nice to see other parts of the park.

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There were even two great lookout spots during the race.

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The 10K was Kristin‘s first trail race! We spent the whole race chatting away and it made the miles fly by. Thankfully both of us stayed upright the whole time. I heard there were a few nasty falls during the day. I have been there before and its not fun! We finished in 1 hour, 14 minutes.

Overall, I really enjoyed the course for this race! Maybe I’ll even find myself running the marathon here in the future.

I really wish I was doing the Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon again this year at Thacher, but it falls on the same day as the Marine Corps Marathon! Speaking of marathon, if you were wondering: yes, I’m still training! Sunday (the day after the 10K) I ran my first 20 miler of my training plan! It went very well and I’m really excited to spend October 26th running around Washington DC for 26.2 miles.

The Longest Hike – Allen Mountain

Saturday was the perfect September day! My day started out VERY early at 4:00 AM. Christine is on her way to finishing her Adirondack 46 this month and  only has a few more high peaks to hike. I joined her for one of the longest, Allen Mountain. We arrived at the trailhead for Allen at the East River parking lot at about 7:00am. The sun had been up for only a few minutes. We wanted as much day light as possible because this was a doozey of a hike. About 18-19 miles round trip and an estimated 12 hours of hiking. I was game because I like walking and I like being outside. I also like mountains.

The first five miles of the hike are on old logging roads and a trail that meanders through some rivers and over some lakes. It was a gorgeous sight. (Again, the moose is missing from these photos. Where are they?!)

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We crossed the Hudson almost immediately entering the trail and there was a brand new bridge !

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Shortly after we came to the trailhead for Mount Adams, which was on our left, followed by some old caretaker cabins. The bridge, Mt. Adams trailhead and the cabins were later going to be our checkpoints on the long walk back to the car.

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Inside the creepy cabin.

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More ponds.

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A view of some neighboring mountains.

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The trail then comes to a gate along the Opalescent River. The trail goes around the gate, but straight down the road. We first made the mistake of crossing the river too soon and had to bushwhack to look for the trail on the other side. When we didn’t find it, we realized we had crossed the river too early. We crossed again, back to the main trail, and then followed it to a cairn marking the REAL crossing further down. I can now check bushwhacking of my list of things to do, and I don’t particularly want to do it again any time soon!

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Leaves are already changing up North.

Five miles and a few grassy fields later, we came to the actual trail register for Allen Mountain. The trail is unmarked, but some trees do have some disks on them as unofficial trail markers. The herd path to the summit is obvious. There were maybe 11 total people on the trail yesterday, three of which Christine and I hiked with almost the whole way, which made the time pass by fast and made it much more enjoyable.

What they say about Allen is true. It’s slippery and wet. The hike up the slimy slides was atrocious and I fell a number of times. I was sliding down a wet rock face, clinging to roots. But, I made it.

7.5 hours after parking at the trailhead, we summited Allen!

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Yellow disk AKA summit marker.

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We enjoyed our lunches on top at one of the lookout points. Not a bad lunch spot.

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AANNND we only had 9 miles to go back to the car. Easy! At least I had to tell myself that or I would have gone crazy. I will say that going down Allen was MUCH easier than coming up the slimy slides, where I was crawling on my hands and knees. And it went much quicker. By the time we got back to the Allen register, the sun was beginning to go down and I knew the last half hour or so of hour hike would be done in the dark, something that will probably always make me uneasy!

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Back at the Opalescent river!

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The walk out was a walk in the park, but the sun did go down and headlamps came out. At one point we made a wrong turn next to Lake Sally and upon realizing we hadn’t been that close to the lake on the way in, we turned back around and headed into the right direction–to the car.

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The trailhead for Mt. Adams came up on our right and I was very relieved we were walking in the right direction. We probably only hiked about 35 minutes in the dark, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Despite the darkness, I felt great the whole day, was only a bit sore after spending 13+ hours walking in the woods with a pack on my back. And I can check Allen off my list for the quest for 46!

Allen Mountain
~18 miles RT
Elevation: 4340′
Ascent: 2540′

Hiking Mt. Jo and ADK Things

This weekend was full of Adirondack goodness. I went camping near Lake Placid with my friends Meredith and John. We had grand plans of hiking some high peaks this past weekend, but weather diminished them. However, the weather was still great on Saturday after we set up camp, and decided that we better get a hike in now, just to say we saw  some views.

Enter Mt. Jo.

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The trail to Mt. Jo is at the Adirondack Loj parking lot. It was a short hike, so we didn’t mind starting the hike at about 4:30pm. First we stopped to see Heart Lake.

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Then we began the 1.1 mile climb on the “short trail” to the summit of Mt. Jo. It was short, but steep!

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There were some great views up here, right in the middle of the high peaks! We could see Algonquin, Wright, Iroquois, Marcy, and even Haystack.

We took the long trail back down, which wasn’t as steep. The sun started going down when we got back to Heart Lake.

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Mt. Jo
2.6 mi RT
Elevation: 2,876′

After our hike, we drove into Lake Placid for dinner at the Pub. (I recommend the Moose Island Ale with the Maple Cheddar Melt.) Then we went back to the campground for the night. We were staying at Lincoln Pond Campground in Elizabethtown, about 45 minutes from Lake Placid.

The following morning it was gloomy, and it looked like it was about to rain any second! So instead of going on our hike, we drove back into Placid for brunch at a great spot called the Breakfast Club. The food was amazing! We then wandered around town and stopped to get maple creme soft serve.

Some other random Adirondack things we did on Sunday:

  • Saw the antique car show parade drive down Main Street
  • Drove to Saranac Lake to see what Hobofest was all about
  • Had a tasting at Blue Line Brewery
  • Stopped to browse at the Mountaineer
  • Tried the famous pie at the Noonmark Diner {I recommend the raspberry rhubarb crumble}
  • Wandered around a unique antique shop
  • Enjoyed the view at Cascade Lakes

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When our hiking plans fell through, we looked at it as an opportunity to do all the things we have been wanting to do when in Lake Placid, but never had time for in the past!